The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $31.8 million to a joint Wisconsin-Minnesota rail project – the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service Project. This Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant comes after years of advocacy for expanded passenger rail service between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Chicago.
As part of the project, infrastructure improvements will take place in both Wisconsin and Minnesota on Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line, which serves Milwaukee and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The project will provide safety updates that include upgraded communication and signaling, extended rail sidings, improvements at-grade crossings, extended yard lead track, and reconstructed and modified new turnouts and main line track.
This grant will help add a second daily passenger trip between Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Following Amtrak’s long-distance ‘Empire Builder’ route, this trip will be the first state-supported inter-city passenger rail line between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities; currently the Twin Cities are currently only served by the Empire Builder route.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao stated this project will tremendously increase “economic development, passenger experience and also efficiency of travel in this region.” She also noted that employers and others wanting to come to this region will look at its transportation infrastructure.
The money from the grant will also go toward adding an eighth round trip between Milwaukee and Chicago.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that a total of $320 million in grant funding would go toward 50 projects across 20 different states. In addition, USDOT announced a nationwide $6.7 million public safety campaign to help reduce deaths at railroad crossings.